ITW | Pioneer Mode Conference brings the Future of Fashion to the next level on Nov. 13-14 in NYC

9 min read

A year ago, I met Lee Anderson, FashionTech pioneer and founder of Starkweather, who was the first to bring FashionTech in Paris. She is one of my first FashionTech mentors, and helped me bring Clausette Magazine to life. So you can imagine how happy I am to promote her event happening in a few days in New York. The Pioneer Mode Conference 2015 explores the impact and inner workings of the fashion industry by bringing together representatives from design, technology and business to discuss pain points and uncover potential business solutions; thanks to an impressive line-up of FashionTech pioneers (including the talented Sabine Seymour).

The frontier is just ahead

Pioneer Mode was imagined by Lee Anderson and Nicole Lenzen to encourage a stronger, healthier community of fashion enterprise.  As stakeholders and professionals working in the fashion industry, they recognize the urgent need to solve problems and improve the current systems that are undermining the agility and longevity of fashion businesses.

Through a cross-disciplinary and results driven approach, Lee and Nicole want to promote collective action, using creativity, technology, and innovation. The conference aims to engage the audience to take a stance, addressing the impact and inner workings of the fashion industry. Creating a platform for discussions, investigations and expert opinions. If you’re interested, you can find the program for the conference day here, the business innovation day here, and register here (hurry up!).

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ITW | Lee Anderson, co-founder of pioneer mode

We grabbed the opportunity to ask Lee a few questions on why she and Nicole organized this event and what they are hoping to achieve through it.

Clausette Magazine: Hi Lee, it’s been quite some time since we met around a coffee in Paris last year. You were one of our first mentors, we’re so happy to be partnering with you on your upcoming Pioneer Mode event! Please tell us more about the event, how did you come up with it?

Lee Anderson: I’m so excited for the Fashion community that Clausette is a growing resource! Much of what we talked about back in Paris has led me to this point of creating Pioneer Mode. As an entrepreneur and fashion designer, I felt that there was a disconnect with my fashion design background and the opportunities available to young designers versus startup founders. This is problematic in a lot of ways, but mostly that the bridge between design and business is very much out of date in the fashion industry. After transitioning into the Fashion Tech space, which is where the innovation in fashion is happening, I was seeing that​ ​there were still many problems that weren’t being addressed, or that old ways of thinking were begin applied even when using new technologies. So Pioneer Mode was developed from a stance of Problem Solving, to create viable business solutions from the problems facing stakeholders in the industry every day.​
C.M.: What are your main objectives with this event? What outcomes would you like to have with it?

​Our main objective is to teach new skills for problem solving to stakeholders in the fashion industry. We are hoping to create cross-industry collaboration and conversation, so that in fashion we can learn from tools that have been successful in other industries. And at the end of the day, we want to create a community of change-makers, who feel empowered to make a difference based on their values as entrepreneurs building a new product or service, or as entrepreneurs, from within larger organizations. We will continue to grow the platform through events and workshops, and other types of skill building and community engagement. 

C.M.: We saw that you are giving a big spot to sustainable/ethical fashion, we also believe fashion has to be cleaner and more responsible in the future. That technology can help fashion going through it, and being more opened to slower initiatives rather than having everything going too fast (so much that designers can’t follow it any longer…). Why did you want to put this forward in your event?

​We have recognized that the sustainable/ethical fashion community is the most active and vocal of the change agents in fashion today. We believe in the same values, but also want to turn the conversation on its head a bit and really emphasize how these initiatives are helping the bottom line, and for new businesses to consider these values as part better business practices. It is in the interest of any size company to improve efficiency, for example, by auditing their supply chain. At the same time, it is an opportunity to offer transparency. And it is very important to note that these tools are largely technology enabled. The solutions would not be possible without powerful software, data, and machine technology.​
​Our speakers on the topic offer solutions to different segments of the industry, using very different tools, that will speak to the vast opportunities that are waiting for us.​​ Regarding the crazy fashion calendar: in the same way that Rana Plaza sparked a movement, but there is still a lot of work to be done in re-educating the consumer and enforcing standards on supply chain, the recent luxury house creative exodus will, I hope, make it ok to admit that there is really something wrong with the current fashion cycle. It will be interesting to hear the conversations in the front row at the next fashion week. In particular at the Lanvin, Dior, and Balenciaga shows.
C.M.: Please tell us more about the speakers, we’re so excited that you managed to gather such a great panel of fashion tech pioneers and influencers!

​We are very excited about our speaker lineup, which was the most challenging but also the most enlightening part of the process. As we put the program together we made an effort to bring in experts who have taken active stance against the status quo from a problem/solution standpoint. And also, those who are vocal about change and progress in their work, not shying away from the issues. I encourage all your readers to check out their bios on the site! Just to name a few, Author Dana Thomas, for example, actively searches in the industry to collect perspectives that the general public wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Moon Ribas and Neil Harbisson will speak to the role of technology in our lives and blast us past this conversation of wearables and think years down the road to what could be possible. Beyond that, we are bringing in design thinking workshop leaders and makers to help us introduce that problem solving methodology to the fashion industry. This is our Google workshop and then our full day workshop with 30 Weeks (of Hyper Island).

We’re covering a lot of ground! But with so much left we haven’t even touched on. We’re looking forward to many more opportunities in the future to get our hands dirty with problem solving!


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Post written by Noémie Balmat, Founding editor-in-chief

Interested in the future of fashion, the digital revolutions and advertising, Noémie has a valuable three-year experience in international advertising agencies and works with young innovative designers as a fashion tech freelance consultant. Currently working for Fred & Farid in Paris, she launched Clausette Magazine in November 2014 to gather all cool projects linking fashion & innovation in one place. Sensitive to the technological and scientific evolutions, she takes part in several Fashion Tech weeks and events as a speaker (Paris, Tokyo, Roubaix…).

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